Onésime-Aimé Léger

Founded in 1874, the Club Saint-Denis, a historic private bastion of the French Canadian bourgeoisie then the Francophone business elite, decided to close in 2009. Its remarkable yet little-known art collection was generously offered to us through the good offices of the late Bernard Lamarre, who worked on this negotiation since 2009. We are deeply grateful to the members of the Club Saint-Denis who accepted to make this gift.

In A Puff of Breath, a young woman in profile with long blonde hair tied back, her head slightly tilted back, blows on the feathery seeds of a dandelion, a third of which have already been blown away. The finely drawn profile of the figure and her clothing delimit the cross-hatched surfaces that make up the figure, the countryside and the branches and leaves of a chestnut tree around her. The composition recalls the famous Semeuse drawn in 1890 by the Swiss painter, printmaker and illustrator Eugène Grasset (1845-1917) to which Georges Moreau (1853-1934), co-founder of Larousse, had the idea of adding dandelion seeds. This image, modified and stylized, would be associated with the motto “I sow to the winds” – to emulate the instruction that follows the belief that the seed would bear fruit. Léger, a painter and illustrator, created the inspired version shown here.


Onésime-Aimé Léger (1881-1924), A Puff of Breath, 1910, oil on canvas, 61.8 x 54 cm.
MMFA, gift of the Club Saint-Denis of Montreal